These days, we’re finding all kinds of creative ways to stay active and engaged. Social distancing brought on by the coronavirus has changed the way we live and work, but it’s still important to feel connected and involved.
If you find yourself with extra time on your hands or a more flexible work schedule, now might be a good time to explore volunteer opportunities.
One option is volunteering with Meals on Wheels of Northeast Ohio. If you have an open hour or two in the coming weeks and want to get out of the house, Meals On Wheels might be the perfect fit.
What’s it like to volunteer for Meals On Wheels?
Most volunteers for Meals On Wheels help deliver meals to homebound seniors, people living alone, and people with disabilities. Volunteers are vital for making sure our hidden and homebound populations received the meals they need to stay healthy and engaged in our community.
As a volunteer, you will be assigned to a route in the neighborhood where you live or work. On your assigned day, you pick up meals at a Meals On Wheels site. The meals are numbered and labeled with each client’s name and address, so moving through your route is organized and easy.
You’ll receive a tablet with a list of clients in the order you should deliver the meals. The tablet has a handy GPS feature that you can follow to each house.
Once you begin your route, you simply deliver meals along your route until you are complete. You’ll quickly find that you’re delivering more than just a meal while out on your route.
Often, our volunteers are the only people that clients see all day. Putting a smile on the faces of seniors can be just as rewarding for volunteers as it is meaningful to the clients.
Once you are finished, you will return the tablet and coolers to the site where you began. You can choose to volunteer as often or as little as you like. A typical route takes about 90 minutes. Routes are available Monday through Friday.
Is it safe during the pandemic?
Meals On Wheels NEO has implemented social distancing and sanitizing practices to keep volunteers and the seniors they serve safe. Volunteers are not in contact with clients and must follow special precautions through the duration of the pandemic.
To prevent contact with the virus, volunteers must wear masks when picking up meals at the site, delivering to the clients’ homes, and dropping coolers off at the end of the route. Volunteers should knock on the client’s door and set the meal on a nearby table or chair for them to take inside.
In place of in-person wellness checks, clients receive phone calls from the Meals On Wheels staff. Volunteers should not be entering the homes of clients during this time. Sanitation supplies are also provided when available, such as hand sanitizer.
Because of the precautions we are taking, volunteering is safe and contactless. Those considering volunteering with Meals On Wheels NEO can call 330-832-7220 to learn more about steps we are taking against COVID-19.
Why is volunteering important?
We need your help more than ever! People 85 and older represent the fastest growing group of Americans, and the number of seniors as a whole is projected to double over the next three to four decades. It will take a huge increase in volunteers to meet their needs.
It’s also more important than ever for seniors to stay at home and avoid contact with the virus. Meals On Wheels provides a safe way for seniors to get the nutritious meals they need at home. It takes the dedication of community members to help ensure that no one is left hungry or alone.
Can you help us keep seniors safe and fed? Join us today by signing up as a volunteer, or call 330-832-7220 to learn more about volunteering. We’d love for you to join us in the fight against senior hunger!
How do I sign up?
Volunteering with Meals On Wheels is easy! You can sign up to deliver meals in a Stark or Wayne County neighborhood online or by calling 330-832-7220.
Online is the quickest and easiest way to volunteer. You can fill out this simple online form and let us know your availability, preferences, and basic information. We will contact you with a route and instructions.
How can I support Meals On Wheels if I can’t volunteer?
We understand if you can’t give your time to deliver meals. If you want to support senior nutrition in another way, consider donating. Any amount makes a huge impact on our ability to feed vulnerable individuals right here at home.
Donations can be made online, or via check and sent to 2363 Nave Road, Massillon, Ohio 44646.
Thank you to our community for all of the ways you support Meals On Wheels NEO. We couldn’t do this work without you!
*The information in this article is intended solely to provide general information on matters of interest for the personal use of the reader, who accepts full responsibility for its use. This article should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal, medical, or other competent advisors.